When I flew back from New Zealand, I came across an article about interesting hotels of the world. Most were the typical exotic types: posh rooms and lavish spas with four-digit price tags. The one that caught my eye didn’t include either feature, and its price also wasn’t sky-high. Apparently, a little more than a decade ago, a 747 came to its final resting place not in an airplane graveyard but rather as a hostel. I figured the chance of a consensual nap in the cockpit of a 747 was going to be rare if not impossible, so I took the bait and booked the trip. As London had been, it was supposed to have been a quick weekend: two nights sleeping in the plane, then back to Germany. The drive to Munich started off cloudy, and the Alps weren’t visible as I flew on to Zurich.
If my first post about New Zealand gave the impression that the entire two weeks was colorless, I have some contrasting news: they were not. When I flew toward my layover airport of Singapore en route to Auckland, we floated among azure skies. Even if grey marshmallows occasionally interrupted my view once on the ground, the peacefulness of streaking above the clouds didn’t end with the bump of landing in New Zealand.
The weather forecast for my first full day in the Faroes was supposed to be pleasant, so not much encouragement was needed to get me out the door and on the road. The roadmap produced by the Faroe Islands tourist board is really quite good and includes a “buttercup” icon that represents scenic spots or roads. I picked one that climbed above Tórshavn, coming across a wind farm after a few minutes of driving. It only took opening the car door to see why this form of electricity production is so pervasive in the Faroes — it’s never not windy!
Travel in 2017 ended not with wistful excursions to Nice and Riffelsee but rather with the standard home trip to the US. After a month without much snowfall, I left the Allgäu in the middle of a snowstorm and left myself plenty of time to get to Zurich Airport. It turns out I planned in too much time, as I arrived before the parking garage opened. I decided to circle the arrivals area, but I forgot I was in Switzerland; of course they would charge drivers to pick up arriving passengers. I drove to the garage after 5 CHF paid for my fifteen minutes of shame, turned on my blinkers, and stubbornly blocked one entrance to the parking garage until I could enter, thinking I had left the snow behind until I got back to the Allgäu in January. Boy, was I wrong.
2017 has been a varied year for travel. Although I ventured as far away as New Zealand, I didn’t wander far often, and I certainly didn’t feel like I was all that active at home, either. But there is a huge expanse behind where I live, and though I can’t see it from my windows or when the weather turns moodily misty, there is plenty to be photographed in my increasingly-native Allgäu, too.
I thought my 2016 travels would end with Vienna, but any remaining frugality gave way to a lingering hunger for the high mountains. It started with a landscape photographer‘s exhibition in nearby Isny; after seeing his photographs I wanted a panorama that I myself could print two meters wide and knew exactly which scene I wanted for that hanging. Or, perhaps, it started with my awoken mountain fascination in 2007 and was thereafter stoked with my discovering Zermatt in 2011. But so it was that I forwent Thanksgiving 2015 and borrowed a set of snowshoes to take that panorama of a lake I had photographed nearly a half-dozen times. The mountain pass was frozen and closed, so again I took the car train under the mountain and to my lost valley. Different year, different month, different car; same inexplicable thirst.